Saturday, 6 Jun 2020 - 14 of Sivan, 5780

European Jewish group calls for apology from Belgian newspaper’s editor following antisemitic column

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In a post on Facebook, a European Jewish group has called on readers to write and demand apology from leading Belgian daily newspaper De Morgen which recently published an antisemitic piece by an invited columnist.

The columnist, Dimitri Verhulst, who is a Flemish writer, referred in his text to the Jewish people as creatures with ‘’ugly noses.’’ He also misquoted French singer Serge Gainsbourg in saying ‘’Being a Jew is not religion, there is not a single God who would give his creatures such an ugly nose.’’

Verhulst also accused Israel of ‘’murdering’’ thousand of Palestinians, blaming the whole of Jewish people and making no distinction between Israel and Jewish people who live abroad and adding that ”there is no promised land, there is a stolen land, there are stolen lives.”

‘’This column is obviously antisemitic and insulting. Yet the editor stubbornly stands by the piece,’’ says the European Jewish Association (EJA) on its Facebook page which walls readers to write the newspaper’s editor-in-chief ‘’to demand an apology to the Jewish community.’’

In a letter to the newspaper editor-in-chief, Bart Eeckhout, the EJA together with the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, B’nai B’rith Europe, Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Commissioner Against Antisemitism of the Jewish Community of Berlin and Action & Protection Foundation TEV in Hungary, write ‘’We need to remind De Morgen newspaper that there are references and stereotypes that Nazis themselves use to this day to describe Jewish people. To blame the whole of the Jewish people collectively for real or imaginary wrongdoing committed by individuals or the State of Israel falls within the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.”

They add: ”It is shocking that this article has not been retracted yet and that we need to point out how dangerous the demonization of the Jewish people is. We ask Editor-In-Chief Mr Bart Eeckhout to retract the article immediately and issue an official apology to the Jewish community and to their readers.”

The Forum of Jewish Organizations (FJO) said it is going to file a complaint against  Dimitri Verhuls. The group, which represents the Jewish community in the Flemish region of Belgium, called the column  “without a doubt anti-Semitic.” The text has been circulating on Jewish news sites and right-wing blogs all week long.

The editor-in-chief of De Morgen made the following statement: “We are open to any debate, but we value freedom of expression. Certainly for columnists, that freedom must be as large as possible, as long as the limits of the civilized debate are respected. We regret the legal complaint and regard it as a tactic to silence anyone who thinks otherwise.”




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